Bullying Strategy #2

                                                      (Four minute read)
Despite that kids get bullied, they sometimes go back to the same kids who keep hurting them. Why do they do that?
On a simple level, the familiar is comfortable. If a child is constantly getting bullied, this has become a familiar experience and there’s a certain level of comfort around it. They know exactly what is going to happen. They will approach the bully, the bully will tease them, and then they will come crying to their teacher or mother who may or may not punish the bully immediately. It’s a “game” that keeps repeating.

On another level, bullies often have followers who do their bidding and join the teasing, which enables the bully to be even more powerful. Why would innocent kids want to side with a bully? Well, well, it’s safer to be on the side of the aggressor than to be on the side of the target/victim and risk getting bullied, too.

Also, because of all their followers, bullies can appear popular. We also know that young elementary-age students prefer to hang around the popular kids rather than the non-popular ones as it gives them a feeling of status to rub shoulders with the “popular” kid, even if that kid is a bully.

Thus, for all these reasons, it’s not surprising that even targets of bullying will keep going back to the bully hoping that they will ingratiate themselves and become friends with the bully.

Sadly, that’s Albert Einstein’s definition of “insanity” – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So what can you do to help the target?

If you’ve taught your child or student some “Great Comebacks,” it is now time to teach them how to choose kind friends so that they can immediately go to their friends and get emotional support after they’ve said their comeback line.

Instead, on a sheet of paper, (or in the child’s red and green notebook,) we create two lists: unhealthy traits in peers and healthy traits in peers.

Below is a collection of sample traits from other children’s notebooks.

                       “Unhealthy Traits vs. Unhealthy Traits

  1. Kind
  2. Includes others
  3. Minds her own business
  4. Gives Space
  5. Truthful
  6. Calm hands
  7. Considerate
  8. Cares about my feelings
  9. Loyal
  10. Respects others
  11. Compliments others
  12. Gets along
  13. Plays nicely
  14. Plays honestly
  15. Plays by the rules
  16. Etc.
  1. Mean
  2. Excludes others
  3. Bossy
  4. Clingy
  5. Lies
  6. Hits, kicks, punches and hurts others
  7. Inconsiderate
  8. Hurts my feelings
  9. Two-facer
  10. Makes fun of others
  11. Insults others
  12. Teases others
  13. Fights
  14. Cheats in games
  15. Keeps changing the rules
  16. Etc.

DON’T preach to your child or student that they have to pick nicer friends.



  • Depending on the child’s age, the list might be shorter and less complex (for younger children), or longer and more complex (for older children).
  • Some children are able to help generate this list, but some kids are at a loss. In such a situation, I might ask, “Would you rather be friends with a kid who is kind or mean?” When the child says, “kind,” I say, “Yup, ‘kind’ is a healthy trait and ‘mean’ is an unhealthy trait. Let’s put that on the list. How about someone who hits you and punches you. Would you want to be friends with someone like that?” Once again, as the child says that she doesn’t want a friend like that, I’ll put “hitting, punching, etc.” on the unhealthy side and “calm hands” on the healthy side.
  • At this point in the activity, it is important not to make any reference to the girls who are bullying her. DO NOT SAY, “So if you know that you don’t want to be friends with someone who makes fun of you, why do you keep going back to __so and so____?” If you say that, your child or student will likely shut down and stop cooperating.




Next Social Skills Lesson: Which of your peers have the healthy traits and unhealthy traits? And to what degree?

Look out for the next blog post!

School’s out! (At least most of them…) Enjoy the summer break!

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